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Marnus Labuschagne relishing Proteas challenge

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Marnus Labuschagne said that there will be no split allegiances as he looks to guide Australia to their first home series win over South Africa since 2005/6.

Marnus Labuschagne of Australia. Picture: AAP Image, Darren England via REUTERS

AHEAD of a maiden Test against his country of birth, Marnus Labuschagne said that there will be no split allegiances as he looks to guide Australia to their first home series win over South Africa since 2005/6.

The Gabba will host the first match, beginning on Saturday, before the series heads to Melbourne for the annual Boxing Day Test.

After scoring a one-day international century in SA in 2020, it will be the first time Labuschagne, the world’s No.1 Test batter, takes the field in a Test against the Proteas. And he is in excellent form ahead of the three-Test series. Labuschagne scored 502 runs at an average of 167.33 in two Tests against the West Indies, highlighted by three successive hundreds, including a double-century in the first.

While Labuschagne is willing to take the odd sledge, he said there will be no divided loyalties when his parents, wife and newly-born daughter watch the game this week at the Gabba.

“My family have adopted Australia as their home and they support me, they support the Australian cricket team. But I certainly think it’s exciting what this Test holds because it is a little bit closer to my heart because it’s the country where I grew up and where I spent 10 years of my life,” Labuschagne told reporters yesterday.

Labuschagne’s record at the Gabba – he averages 94.60 in four Test matches there, including centuries against Pakistan in 2019/20 and India in 2020/21 – combined with his imposing recent form may force the Proteas to employ the same tactics in the series.

“We always talk about attacking people in different ways. But the reality of cricket is there’s not many other options you go to apart from; attack the stumps early, you hang it wide, you bowl straight or you fall short,” he said.

“They’re your options, and you just mix through those with different bowlers. I’m assuming that, with their pace attack, the percentage play is there and they will absolutely go short at some stage. I’m certainly going to make sure that I’m prepared for anything they’re going to throw at me.”

As a teenage cricket fan in Klerksdorp, Labuschagne idolised SA legends such as Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, and Graeme Smith. When he was 10-years-old and moved to Australia with his family, his idols rapidly became Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Mike Hussey and Damien Martyn.

“Jacques Kallis, Shaun Pollock, Greame Smith, AB de Villiers – as a young kid growing up in South Africa, you look up to these guys. Then coming to Australia, and really diving into the Australian culture, looking up to the likes of Ricky Ponting, Damien Martyn, Michael Hussey Michael Clarke –I remember getting a V900 (bat) because Michael Clarke had a V900.

“As your career evolves you just grow and grow to liking to different players, it does’t matter the country,” he added.

ANI

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